Here’s How You Can Help the Australia Fire Relief Effort
By now you’ve likely read the news reports and seen the photos. Australia is being ravaged by the worst wildfires the country has seen in decades, with many areas devastated since the fires began in September of last year. Record-breaking temperatures, months of severe drought and strong winds have fueled a series of massive bushfires across the country that have torn through bushland, mountain forests and national parks. At least 24 people have died nationwide.
According to local news reports, more than 24 million acres have been burned, and even with firefighting assistance from countries including the U.S., state and federal authorities are struggling to contain the massive fires. In New South Wales alone – the state hit the hardest by the fires – approximately 130 blazes were burning as of Jan. 6, destroying more than 1,300 houses and forcing thousands to evacuate.
Some of Australia’s largest cities, including Melbourne and Sydney, have also been impacted. Fires have damaged homes in the outer suburbs and thick plumes of smoke have blanketed the skies, making the air practically unbreathable.
But it isn’t only humans that have been impacted by this tragedy. As many as 1 billion animals have been killed by the fires, according to University of Sydney ecologists. To make matters worse, Australia is only now entering its summer season, with temperatures expected to peak in January and February — meaning relief could be months away.
The situation is dire and heartbreaking. So what can you do? Join your fellow event professionals by donating funds to the organizations working toward bushfire response and victim relief and recovery, including a Facebook fundraising campaign started by Australia-based Info Salons Group. A Freeman company, Info Salons provides event technology solutions for online and on-site registration, data tracking and capture for the exhibition and events industry throughout Greater Asia.
Launched by Jo-Anne Kelleway, the company’s CEO, the campaign is already working hard to collect funds to support the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, the world’s largest volunteer fire service that provides fire and emergency services to approximately 95 percent of New South Wales.
“Australia has been home base to Info Salons for 30 years,” Kelleway said. “Our beautiful country and wildlife are burning out of control. The fires are not abating with no rain forecasted and temperatures set to rise with gale force winds making it impossible for our firefighters.”
She continued, “We desperately need funds to rent large bomber planes to continuously dump water along the fire-lines that literally spread around the perimeter of Australia. We don’t want to lose this beautiful, natural country that we call home.”
Other Australia-based organizations you can support, as recommended by Tourism Australia officials, include:
- Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief
- Recovery programs, emergency assistance, volunteer training
- Salvation Army Disaster Appeal
- Financial assistance, emergency wellbeing and support for those affected
- St Vincent de Paul Society Bushfire Appeal
- $50 provides food for a family who’s been evacuated from their home
- South Australian Country Fire Service
- Disaster recovery and specific aid to Kangaroo Island
- Victoria Country Fire Authority
- Helping families in need, supporting wellbeing of firefighters
- Victorian Bushfire Appeal
- Support to Victorians rebuilding post-fire
To help support wildlife rescue and treatment, you can donate to groups such as:
- Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization
- Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
- Helping to treat koalas and installing drinking stations
- RSPCA New South Wales
- Working to evacuate, rescue and treat pets, livestock and wildlife in impacted areas
- Currumbin Wildlife Hospital
- Treating koalas injured by the fire
- Humane Society International Australia
- Deliver water and feed to koalas
“Tourism and business events are a significant driver of Australia’s economy, and one of the ways companies can help support our communities during this time is to continue to bring their events to Australia,” said Phillipa Harrison, managing director for Tourism Australia. “Many areas [of the country] are unaffected [by the fires], and most business events operators are open and ready to welcome visitors. Those affected by bushfires will benefit greatly from visitation when the time is right.”
TSNN Managing Editor Kelsey Ogletree also contributed to this story.